2013 Senior Bowl Offensive Preview: Potential Dolphins to Track This Week

January 21st, 2013

Markus Wheaton
With the Dolphins needing depth almost across the offense after quarterback and runnin back, especially at receiver (and lots of of it), at tight end (let’s move pass Michael Egnew), and the offensive line, the Dolphins should be in full force at the Senior Bowl to watch the below players.

Wide Receivers
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State Wheaton, who’s been a terrific athlete over his 20 starts and 49 appearances at Oregon State, began to develop more defined routes to gain separation on a consistent basis, as well as flashing the ability to use his hands and double moves to effectively get vertical. A still developing receiver, especially as a route runner, Wheaton’s progressions this year along with his vertical stretch ability should make him a great value in the 2nd-3rd round.

Aaron Dobson, Marshall Dobson had the misfortune of playing with some mediocre or poor passers at his time at Marshall, and still was able to produce at a high level considering. What Dobson lacks in elite speed, burst upfield, or polish in his routes, he wows with highlight reel catches and elite body control. With his upside, he should turn out to be a better college than a pro, and could rise to the early 2nd round discussion.

Aaron Mellette, Elon
Despite just two years of high school football (partly why he landed at Elon), Mellette has gone on to be one of the most productive receivers in the country at the FCS level since 2010. However, Mellette doesn’t have elite speed, lacks polish as a receiver, and the level of competition issue (see his UNC game) won’t go away quietly. The Senior Bowl is of major importance for Mellette.

Chris Harper, Kansas State The former Oregon quarterback recruit, Harper transferred to Kansas State (closer to his hometown), and the former dual-threat QB developed the physicality and polish as a receiver to now be one of the most physical receivers in the country. With the sheer strength to win as a receiver and runner, similar to Anquan Boldin, Harper could rise throughout the process and be in the 2nd-3rd round discussion.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana TechOne of the most efficient and productive receivers in college football the last two years, Quinton Patton does all of the little things well project as a long-term NFL receiver in a variety of systems. He tracks the ball at an elite level and is a subtle after catch runner. While he lacks top end burst and athleticism, , it’s his is ability to get upfield quickly and with decisive run-after catch moves, his elite ball tracking skill set, his diversity in the routes he’s scored touchdowns on, and his development as blocker shouldn’t take long to adjust to the NFL level.

Terrance Williams, Baylor High-cut with deep speed to burn and plus length, Terrence Williams more than looks the part of an elite caliber wide receiver. Moreover, Williams packed the stat sheet as a consensus All-American in his first season as the primary target. At the senior bowl, it’ll be interesting to note how Williams attacks the football, as he isn’t a natural hands guy but can really flash explosive playmaking skills at the catch point with length, leaping skills and overall body control.

Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas Another track athlete with length and speed, Hamilton similarly graduated from being a supporting cast member to a lead actor in his team’s passing attack. Leaner than Williams, but more elusive and balanced after the catch, Hamilton was used most frequently on shallow cross patterns and mesh concepts that allowed him to drag across the width of the field. Hamilton shies away from contact and struggles to extend for catches outside his frame. In reviewing my own notes over Hamilton, it’ll be important to see if he can win off the line versus press coverage, as opposing corners in the SEC rarely bumped him.

Ryan Swope, Texas A&M The former running back recruit, Swope has become a short area route technician as a receiver, while still having the strength and balance to be strong runner after catch. Likely limited to the slot at the next level, it’s his bulk as a runner and definition as a receiver that should allow him to be one of the premier slot receivers in this class.

Tight Ends

Mike Williams, Alabama In my preseason evaluations, I was highly unimpressed with Michael Williams lack of receiving skills and perceived underachieving as a blocker. After the first few games of the 2012 season, my tune quickly changed, as I saw Williams develop into a consistently active, polished and occasionally dominant blocker. Equally effective in pass protection or run blocking, in a variety of traditional tight end, wing tight end and H-Back alignments, Williams has learned to play with better base and overall hand usage at the point of attack. And while he should impress as a blocker in senior bowl practices, I’m more intent to see his impact in the downfield passing game and whether or not he can be a threat up the seam.


Offensive Tackles

Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse After overcoming a shoulder injury earlier this year, Pugh has stepped up and gotten back to his 2011 form as a legit left tackle prospect. Listed as both a redshirt junior and senior by Syracuse (thanks to him not playing any snaps in 2008), my feeling from being at Syracuse was that Pugh is already basically considered a senior and likely to be playing in the NFL next year. Still a little stiff in his in-line pass protection, Pugh still has the balance in his kick slide, the anchoring ability in pass protection to protect inside, and the ability to time his initial punch on the edge to not allow over-extension or a loss of balance on the outside. Pugh is the top ranked offensive tackle prospect for us, and certainly has 1st round, left tackle upside in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin Ricky Wagner is another Wisconsin left tackle expected to be one of the best in the country. A former basketball recruit, Wagner walked on to the football team as a 235 pound tight end. He maintained his athleticism, which is showcased in the passing game. He shadows pass rushers very well, but at times he struggles with speed rushers, especially fast linebackers. Ricky also needs to work on his hand placement.  If he can show this week he can play the outside and be an effective (even though limited), he’ll have a chance to redeem the struggles he had this senior season.

Dallas Thomas, Tennessee Naturally athletic, quick and sudden out of his stance, and possessing the trunk, base, length and hand strength scouts look for in starting next level guards, the only area of weakness of Thomas is in the drive blocking capacity. Bending at the knees to absorb initial contact and maintain proper leverage, Thomas punches and sustains very well in both pass sets and run block assignments, but lacks real bite in terms of moving his man out of the hole. Hopefully at the senior bowl, Thomas will receive snaps at both guard and tackle, because he may project best as a zone blocking, left tackle.

Oday Aboushi, Virginia
Though he isn’t physical at the point of attack, and lacks sustained power in the run game, Aboushi demonstrates excellent footwork and balance, and looks to have the overall athleticism to left tackle at the next level. He looks natural getting to second level defenders in the run game and on screens, and displays good mobility pulling around the edge on sweeps. Aboushi still needs to develop and be more physical as an inline run blocker, but his size (6060, 310) and smooth footwork in pass protection make him a solid prospect for a pass oriented team, whose run game contains a good amount of counter and misdirection.

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